“Heart Strings, Connecting Youth”: Heartware Network’s 19th Annual Fundraiser Celebrates the Spirit of Unity and Compassion

Nov 01, 2019   |   Coen Sim

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Taking on a wide range of roles from logistics planners to ambassadors and even the organisation’s mascot – a big, cuddly teddy bear known fondly as the “HeartBear” – youth volunteers celebrated Heartware Network’s 19th anniversary by stepping up to help lead and power the biennial Fundraising and Thanksgiving Dinner to deliver a fantastic night of joy and appreciation for sponsors and guests alike on the 24th of October.

‘Heart Strings, Connecting Youth – Our Journey Towards 20’ was a near-exclusively volunteer-driven programme, right down to the HeartBear mascot.

The theme for Heartware Network’s 19th anniversary is “‘Heart Strings, Connecting Youth’ – Our Journey Towards 20.” Drawing inspiration from the expression of ‘heartstrings’ in reference to one’s deepest feelings of love and compassion, Heartware wishes to tap into that element of love to connect youths; not only with each other, but with their friends, families, and the community that they serve and belong to. 

The gala dinner held at the Furama RiverFront Hotel showcased the non-profit organisation’s ability to run a near-exclusively volunteer-driven programme, with the volunteers displaying drive, level-headedness and Heartware Network’s signature service with heart.

Gracing the event as the guest of honour was Ms Indranee Thurai Rajah, Second Minister for Education. 

The approach towards the biennial Fundraising event underwent a paradigm shift from two years ago – from a professional, vendor-driven approach, to a platform containing a wealth of opportunities for volunteers to experience running a formal gala dinner event. 

The change in direction enabled Heartware Network to focus more on strengthening its connections and bonds with its sponsors and the friends and family of its volunteers, rather than simply keeping the event formal and polished. A seat reserved at every table in the gala dinner for a volunteer ambassador enabled the guests to have personal and meaningful conversations with volunteers to find out more about their experiences at Heartware.

Our volunteer ambassadors, shown in red, were seated at every table for guests to have personal and meaningful conversations with volunteers to find out more about their experiences at Heartware.

The move also empowered Heartware Network to better stay true to its mission in empowering youths by offering them as many opportunities as possible to gain service and leadership experience and strengthen their abilities. 

“It’s unprecedented and quite unexpected for volunteers with no professional training whatsoever to run an event on this scale, with photography, videography, live feed coverage and even emceeing… I also think it’s a brilliant touch that they’re fronting their own brand,” remarked Ms Soh Lixia, a representative of Vicinity Studio, the sponsor for the Heartware corporate video. “The fact that they’re doing this out of the kindness of their hearts makes it all the more impressive”.

Our media volunteers had a variety of more specialized roles, and were deployed for journalism, event photography, conducting interviews and fronting the Photobooth.

“I like that the volunteers are the main people driving this event together; that it’s nicely put together and quite professionally done,” said Mr Sanee Neo, General Manager of Mascot Enterprise, the sponsor for the Heartware mascot. 

“Having interacted with the brand previously and volunteers from the organisation tonight, I am very impressed and am looking forward to seeing more charity work from Heartware making a greater positive impact on Singapore’s society.”

The lively atmosphere was evident in the wide smiles, riveting conversations and bubbling laughter that filled the ballroom throughout the dinner. 

Board Chairman of Heartware Network Dr Ting Seng Kiong first addressed the audience, introducing the events of the evening and recapping Heartware’s primary roles in serving the community. He expressed sincere gratitude in thanking the sponsors, staff and volunteers for their efforts and contributions to Heartware Network and its cause. 

Minister Indranee then took to the stage to deliver an appreciation speech of Heartware’s progress and growth through the years. She particularly highlighted the positive results of the Heartware Tuition Programme and the organisation’s successful alignment with the Ministry of Education in educating youths on character values, practical skills and leadership. 

Ms Indranee, Second Minister for Education, expanding more about Heartware Network’s Programmes in alignment with the Ministry of Education’s objectives.

The opening performance to the Dinner featured a hip-hop dance by a young crew from Tanglin Secondary School and CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School. They delighted the audience with their energetic moves to empowering songs, ‘Fight Song’ by Rachel Platten and ‘This Is Me’ from the soundtrack of award-winning movie ‘The Greatest Showman’. 

The spotlight then shifted to the volunteers, with an awards presentation for top volunteers and a sharing session from two passionate volunteers about how their time with Heartware Network changed their lives for the better. 

Our volunteer Cheryl Lim’s heartfelt sharing about her elderly visits during the Support Our Pioneers (SOP) Programme.

To wrap up the Dinner, a team of volunteer performers put up an entertaining and meaningful skit. It illustrated how Heartware’s widespread community outreach helps beneficiaries of different generations with their individual issues – such as young students with their studies and the elderly with companionship and support – as well as bridging the generational gap between them and connecting them together. 

Volunteers at the fundraiser felt a great sense of pride and personal satisfaction, with their time and effort bearing fruit in the successful execution of the event. 

“I experienced plenty of growth through the event. It challenged my ability to multitask in an important event to ensure things on my end were being fulfilled,” quipped media volunteer Shayene Gilflores Winfred who was in charge of social media updates for the night. 

“When I was still a newbie here, I met a seasoned volunteer during one of the NDP trainings who gave me this piece of advice that I still carry with me today, and that is to “End no deployment feeling like trash; always finish satisfied, like you’ve left your impact as a volunteer,” and I really feel like I lived up to the motto tonight.”

“It was a very memorable night for me. I felt so proud of how far Heartware has come and that I could be a part of this special moment,” said Natelie Er Xin Le, a volunteer performer. “Acting in the Heartware skit allowed me to express how proud I am to be a volunteer through doing what I love to do.”

A still from the skit, which illustrates how Heartware’s widespread community outreach assists beneficiaries of different generations with their individual issues.

“This year is special because every component is volunteer-driven and we minimized the use of external manpower. With these components, we want to give the guests a feel of how Heartware runs programmes and events. We want them to experience the power of youth,” affirmed Executive Director of Heartware Network See Leng. 

Heartware Network will continue to expand the platform for youths to serve the community with greater opportunities and learning experiences, giving them every possible opportunity to help transform lives for the better. 

Let us pass on this purpose to engage youths and shape them into inspiring future leaders with the right values,” declared Minister Indranee in her address. 

Youths are the future of our community and the future leaders for our nation”.